Moero’s Garden is a covenant of Jerbiton magi living in Nicaea, the new capital of the displaced Byzantine Empire. Aristocratic and effete, its members were expelled from their original site in Constantinople and eagerly seek to return. Until then, they make do as best they can, pursuing their artistic interests and dignified lifestyles.
Moero’s Garden was founded in 1163 during the glory years of Emperor Manuel Komnenos. Ionnia of House Jerbiton, a minor Byzantine noble and lover of women poets, carefully searched the older sections of the city for the home of Moero, a prolific poet living around 300 BC. Discovering that the site rested in one of the city’s several lacunas, she summoned Moero’s ghost and asked her to serve as the patron spirit for a new covenant. With this accomplished, Ionnia asked some of her sodales, all Jerbiton magi with aristocratic family ties, to join her. She dedicated her covenant to finding literature and art of the early Byzantine period, which House Jerbiton considers a very laudable venture. A condition of membership was that the magi could not work for a living, copying the conditions of Roman senators and Byzantine nobles, and that their income had to be derived from land toiled by others’ hands. The covenant prospered, leaving its members time to indulge their literary and artistic proclivities.
During its time in Constantinople, Moero’s Garden did not participate in the mundane affairs of the emperor. While they attended social functions, they rigidly resisted close connections to the imperial family and mundane politicians. Rather, they focused on beautifying their covenant, taking expensive holidays abroad, and visiting the sites in the Theban Tribunal that house ancient architecture and paintings. The magi were overly trusting of both the Hermetic political system and the emperor’s rule, assured that no harm would come to them as long as they remained politically uninvolved with the emperor.
Things changed when the crusaders stormed the walls and seized the city. The beauty of the city was horribly scared, and while Moero’s Garden escaped the initial destruction, its members were not confident that it would remain untouched. The crusaders’ reputation for looting made them fear for their library and collected artifacts, and when the chance to leave the city came, they followed the majority of the affluent Greeks and fled. They carried what possessions they could, but the vast majority was left behind. They fled to a chapter house they had established in Nicaea, the ancestral home of Hipparchus of Nicaea, a famous Greek astronomer who lived around 190 BC. This former summer home has become the entirety of their covenant.
Setting and Physical Description
The home of Hipparchus sits in a corner of Nicaea in a section devoted to merchants and their families. It is a large building three stories high, with both an outer and inner courtyard. Palatial by merchants’ standards, the members find it squalid, cramped, and undignified, despite their best efforts to rehabilitate the place’s aesthetics. The top floor of the building is divided into laboratories, the second floor is the magi’s living quarters, and the covenfolk live on the ground floor. Their library and artifacts of art are stored in the basement, a condition which continues to horrify them.
To make matters worse, the new site rests in a Divine aura of 2. While not an insurmountable obstacle to the magi, their apprentices find it difficult to cast spells and complete their final years of apprenticeship at the covenant.
Moero’s Garden’s original purpose was to assemble the splendid artifacts and literature of the past to highlight the harmony and peaceful cerebral delight of beauty, which would temper hot emotions and promote a sense of well-being and serenity throughout the Order. With the fall of Constantinople and the scattering of the treasures she once held, Moero’s Garden also seeks to reclaim items that were lost.
Patron Spirit: Hipparchus
Moero’s Garden’s patron spirit is the ghost of Hipparchus, summoned and reluctantly bound by Ionnia. While Moero’s ghost is still bound in Constantinople, the Tribunal stipulates that a covenant’s patron spirit reside within the covenant, forcing Ionnia to bind this second ghost. In terms of Might, Hipparchus’ ghost is not powerful, nor is it happy to have been disturbed from its centuries-long slumber. Consequently, the ghost torments those he can, primarily the covenfolk because the magi are too powerful for it to affect. It spends its day pulling hair, tipping over bowls of wine, and blowing out lamps.
When things get really bad, Ionnia placates the ghost by spending time with it, gazing at the stars and discussing astronomy. Hipparchus’ ghost enjoys such evenings, which effectively sooths it for a week or so.